French government indifferent to murdered sex workers

Thierry Schaffauser
Source (institute/publication)
Ma Lumière Rouge

The murders of sex workers in France are met by government indifference.

We are told that "prostitution" is violence, and that there were murders of sex workers before the criminalization of clients. But no. Not so many, not so often, not to this level. In 18 years of selling sex, I have never attended so many ceremonies and commemorations of deceased colleagues. In 15 years of whore activism and unionism, I’ve never seen so many STRASS members assaulted and raped, including one of our spokespersons and our General Secretary.

In this month of February alone, three members of our community have already been killed. Each time, we appeal to the government, and each time there is silence.

During the debates on the criminalization of clients, we were ringing the alarm about the increase in violence we knew would follow. But we never could we have imagined that it would be to this extent. We were called ‘pimps’, as usual, and the law was passed. Today, it seems impossible to even question the prohibitionist dogma. We are not going to reopen such a polarizing debate when the government must already manage the crisis of yellow vests and social protest ...

Evidence is mounting, and it shows the catastrophe of criminalization policies. Publications in The Lanceta study directed by a CNRS researcher, and the very concrete and very real deaths around us, nothing helps, the whores are liars, and those who attack France before the European court of human rights are necessarily manipulated.

We are told that it is still too early to measure the positive effects of the law. How much longer will we wait before admitting that there are no positive effects? The government's assessment of the law, scheduled for April 2018, has yet to be released. However, we know that the IGAS (General Inspection of Social Affairs) report was delivered last December and that it is on the Prime Minister’s desk. Are we to conclude that this report is too compromising to be published and that it will end up in the trash like others before it?

The increase and extent of violence since the criminalization of clients has led to further organization within sex worker communities. Self-defense courses have been set up by SWAG (Sex Worker Self Defense Group), the Jasmine Project has materialised with a signalling and alert system, but these projects have not received political or financial support. Because these projects and organizations do not embrace the national prohibitionist ideology. We are told that we cannot fight violence if we do not define "prostitution" as violence. We are told they only legitimate policy is "end demand", supported by prohibitionist and Catholic associations who enrich themselves through government subsidies, while publicly making discriminatory and transphobic remarks against the persons they are supposed to be helping.

Meanwhile, the list of our dead is growing:

September 10, 2019, Marlène was found having been cut into pieces in Evian-les-Bains

October 30, 2019, Anne-Laure was bound and murdered in the Rhône in Lyon

December 8, 2019, a woman's throat was slit in her home in Paris’s XVII district

December 16, 2019, Maïa, a spokesperson for STRASS, was driven to suicide after a cyberbullying campaign

December 25, 2019, Olivia was strangled in Mougins, Alpes Maritimes

January 13, 2020, 18-year-old woman found naked and tortured in a Yvelines forest (we don’t know if she is still alive)

February 9-10, 2020, Alais, 19, was stabbed in Montpellier

February 19, 2020, a woman was thrown out a third-story window during a police check in Lyon

February 21, 2020, Jessica was intentionally run over by a car at the Bois de Boulogne in Paris

During this period, other murders occurred which were not covered by the media, including 3 Chinese women who were known to the Lotus bus, who’s entourage asked for privacy, and a Nigerian woman whose death we learned about from a police authority. There may still be others who are unknown to us.



Translation by Luca Stevenson.